Living a Dream

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
“Living A Dream” is a Romantic Fantasy.

Mark Saunders wakes up to find himself in a vast emptiness. He doesn’t know where he is, and how he arrived there. Strange as this dream world maybe, perhaps he might find in there the love and purpose he’s missing in his real life.

Submitted: June 03, 2008

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Submitted: June 03, 2008

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I have been happy, tho' in a dream.
I have been happy- and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love- and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.
--Edgar Allen Poe
Dreams
Darkness.
Mark awoke to find himself engulfed by darkness so complete as to appear unreal.He stood motionless; stupefied at a situation he could not conceivably understand.The strangest thing, he suddenly realized, was that he could see himself perfectly.He looked down and stared fixedly at his hand, slowly turning it around and examining its every angle, as if he was discovering it for the first time.He was a rational intelligent man, but questions streamed through his mind faster than his brain could begin to process.Where am I?How did I get here?Is this real? Am I dreaming?The whole absurdity of this setting defied a logical explanation, and being a practical analytical person, he found himself unable to think.Fear began to creep into his mind … and then he saw her.
She stood out in the pitch-black emptiness, like a beacon on a stormy night. Even though he could not see a light source directed at her, he could see her perfectly, walking towards him in slow deliberate steps.Her radiant face was adorned with celestial blue eyes and a delicate nose, her lips wearing a sweetly expressive smile.Her long undulating blond hair brushed the side of her cheeks, then flowed down her back like a golden cascade.She was dressed in a full-length white slip dress, giving the illusion that she almost floated rather than walking. She was an ethereal presence; light in an ocean of darkness.
Mark stared at her awestruck, with unblinking eyes, as she slowly covered the distance separating them.Between the unreal dark setting, and her angel like appearance, Mark came to what he though was an inevitable conclusion.
“Oh shit, I’m dead.”
As she drew nearer, he thought of calling out, but any intelligent words he might use in such a situation fled his mind.A few more steps, and she finally stood only five feet away, regarding him with a gentle soothing smile.He paused for what seemed like a small eternity, then finally spoke in a quavering voice.
“Are … are you an angel?Am I dead?”
He fully expected her to answer in a stiff religious tone, welcoming him to The Lord’s Kingdom or something of the sort, when instead she gave him a broad smile.“Afraid not my son,” she teased.“I can’t promise you are not dead, but I can assure you I’m no angel.”
At first he just gaped at her, mouth opened and face contorted in a look of disbelief.“What’s that supposed to mean?” He finally asked, his arms stretched, palms up in a sign of total exasperation.“You have to know what this place is!You obviously belong here.I don’t see too many people dressed like Greek goddesses in everyday life.”
“Well, the funny thing is that I don’t really know what this place is either,” she said in an apologetic tone.She continued in a slow voice, as if she was only then realizing the words she was about to say.“I do know that somehow, I’m here to help you.”
He was about to make an angry retort, but he paused, and looked at her sincere blue eyes.He had long given up trusting people, but if his heart had grown so cold that he could not take a chance on someone who seemed to radiate kindness, then maybe this dark infinity was where he really belonged.He didn’t know why, but he instinctively trusted her.He couldn’t explain it, but he felt a connection to her, a special bond.
“All right, I’m sorry if I was a little rude.I’m overwhelmed with all this.Let’s start again the right way.Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to,“ he said, bowing in a playful salute, ”and how are you going to help me? “
“I know you are not going to like this answer, but I’m not sure of either one,” she said, her face growing pensive.“I know I should be disturbed, I know I should be scared, but something in my heart tells me that being here with you is exactly what I should be doing.”
“That’s nice.Strange, but nice.I’m Mark by the way,” he said extending his right hand out.
“I’m … ” she moved her hand out to shake his, but stopped in mid-sentence, cocking her head to the side, trying to decide what to say next.“ … Sarah,” she finally concluded.“Yes, I’m sure I’m Sarah!”She repeated with a proud triumphant grin.
“Good for you, Sarah!” Mark mocked. “And a lovely name it is, too!Most people don’t seem to derive that much pleasure over knowing their own names, but I’m glad it’s such a thrill for you”
“Well, maybe that’s something you can work on.Maybe you need to learn to derive pleasure from simple things.If I’m going to help you, you’ll need to take it easy on yourself.”
He smiled in spite of himself.“I’m now convinced my whole life is one of God’s little practical jokes,” he said, shaking his head from side to side in resignation.“I have to be trapped in the Twilight Zone for a lovely woman like you to say nice things to me.Why couldn’t I have met you in the supermarket at the Deli line? We would both reach to pick up a number, our hands would brush, we would look at each other, talk about provolone and pastrami, and end up having coffee at Starbucks. Nice; Sweet; Normal.”
“What can I say,” she shrugged.“I’m not a big fan of pastrami, but I’m here now.Maybe we can concentrate on the matters at hand, such as, why are we here?”Determination punctuated her last remark.“What is the last thing you remember before this?”
“That’s original,” he snorted.“But I don’t suppose I have any better ideas.Let me see … “ his eyes narrowed, as his vision receded into his mind, playing back the events of the day.“I remember another stressful day on the trading floor, followed by the usual round of beer and bullshit with the other traders, then a cab ride home.The rest is the same old stuff.I ordered Chinese, sat on the easy chair reading the Wall Street Journal, watched Lou Dobbs Moneyline, …”
He was about to say something else, when he realized he couldn’t think of the next event.“You know, I don’t remember the end of Moneyline,” he said with a look of uneasy puzzlement.“The Sector’s Report.I never saw the Sector’s Report!”
#
“Mr. Saunders, are you there!” The cleaning lady pounded on the door of Mark Saunders apartment at Madison and 75th. He was supposed to open the door for her by 7:00am, and he was always there.There was only one time he was still asleep when she arrived, a problem with his alarm clock, but he woke up when she knocked.He was a considerate gentleman, and in other times he had to cancel, he always gave her plenty advance notice.
“Mr. Saunders!” She knocked again.
#
“No way I’m dreaming!” Mark exclaimed while vigorously shaking his head.
“Think about it,” Sarah responded patiently.“It was night time, you were sitting on the sofa, and you can’t remember anything after that.Don’t you think that’s pretty suggestive?”
“I know what a dream is, and this is not a dream!” He persisted, pacing and gesticulating animatedly.“I’m never this self-aware in a dream.My dreams are never this coherent, and that’s considering how crazy this whole situation is.”
He looked at her with an air of finality, and added, “if this was a dream, instead of having this logical discussion, you’d be wearing an Alice in Wonderland outfit, and a white rabbit would be hopping behind you”.
“Oh no,” she said with mocking indignation.“What is it with men an Alice?Is it the blond hair?The cute blue dress?”
“I can’t speak for other men, but that British accent goes a long way for me.”He smiled warmly at her.“I think you get the picture anyway. Does this really feel like a dream to you?”
“Ok, so maybe this is not exactly your garden variety dream, but what else do you think this is?An alien kidnapping?Do you think Agent Mulder is coming to rescue you?”She paused for a moment, letting her sarcasm drive the point.“Haven’t you had some vivid dreams from time to time, that felt so real you cursed yourself for waking up?”
He cocked his head contemplating the question, then said slowly, “yes … but they generally don’t last this long.”He paused briefly, gradually dragging his thoughts out.“And another thing: look at this place.”He waived his hands, pointing at the nothingness that surrounded them. “I mean, I know I haven’t exactly been happy lately, but are you telling me I’m dreaming all this up, and this is the best I could do?”
“I don’t know.What are dreams really?Does anyone truly know what drives them?It seems like no two Psychologists or Scientists agree on what a dream is.Perhaps this area is just a gateway.Perhaps you get a free ride up to this point, but from here on in, you are in the driver seat.”She stared into his eyes and challenged him.“Do you ever take control of things?Take control of this situation!”
“You talk like this is a piece of cake,” he protested fiercely.“So if you are right, I should be able to take us anywhere.Just like that.”He looked at her defiantly.“What do I do?Twitch my nose like Bewitched?Cross my arms and bob my head like Jeannie?”
She didn’t respond.She simply scowled at him, in a look that said loudly that she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of being annoyed by his sarcasm.
Understanding her unspoken words, Mark grumbled, “ok, I’m sorry.I’ll close my eyes and concentrate on something.Something nicer than this.”He closed his eyes, and tried to think of a beautiful place.He remembered his honeymoon … Turks & Caicos.Definitely a nicer place.He squeezed his eyes tighter, and let his mind drift backwards in time. In the recesses of his mind, he began to feel the sea breeze.He heard the waves …
#
Ele sempre esta aqui de manhazinha para abrir a porta,” Katia spoke in Portuguese to Manuel, the building maintenance man, explaining that Mark was always there early in the morning to let her in.
“He is not answering on either the intercom or his telephone,” he added.
“Do you have anyone you can call?He never talked to me about his personal life.I don’t know if he has any family here.I think you should open the door Manuel,” she said in a quick concerned voice, punctuated by her Latin accent.
“I better not get into any trouble for this.”He sighted, and reached for his large key chain.
#
Mark opened his eyes, but had to shut them again, temporarily blinded by the bright sun light.He stood on fine sparkling sand, looking out into the sea, feeling the warmth of the sun on his back. Turks & Caicos, he marveled with an astonished grin, a small province just North of the Caribbean.The sea stretched out into forever, in a dazzling pattern of turquoise stripes.The water gently caressed the beach, and in the distance, he could see multiple breaking points, where the white surf skidded over the blue sea.There were clouds in the sky, round puffy ones, like the cotton candy he used to eat as a kid in the Dane County fair in Iowa.But the clouds knew better than to block the sun and interfere with perfection.
He suddenly thought of Sarah, and quickly looked over his shoulder.She was there, standing a few steps behind him, wearing a self-congratulatory smile.He gazed at her silently for a few seconds.She was a vision of delicate beauty, a perfect complement to the landscape that encircled him.The sea breeze blew her hair back, and made ripples in the white gown she still wore.He finally spoke in a serious voice.“Sarah, there is something I need to tell you.”
“Yes …?”Her eyes narrowing as she responded quizzically.
He gave a penetrating look, forewarning that he was about to tell her something profound.“You look ridiculous on the beach wearing this outfit,” he finally said, opening a broad grin in mid-sentence.
Sarah gaped in surprise at the unexpected comment, then recovered herself, put her hands on her hips and glared at him.Her eyes however, could not hide a flicker of amusement.“Well, that may be so, but I don’t think you are one to talk.How many people do you know wear a double-breasted navy blue suit to the beach?”
Mark looked down at himself, and was appalled to see he was wearing his standard work attire.Funny, he contemplated, that he had not been aware of this till now.How sad that even when he dreamt, since it appeared now that he was in fact dreaming, he couldn’t dissociate himself from work.He could fix that he thought.He closed his eyes, and when he reopened them, he was wearing Levis dockers shorts, a red Polo shirt, and casual brown loafers.
“Not bad,” she said with an appraising look.“You look much more relaxed.Now can you do something about this?”She looked down and pointed to her outfit.
“Sure …” he said with a mischievous grin.A moment later she was dressed, or rather undressed, in a small red two piece bikini.Before he had a chance to admire her figure, she cut him off.
“Think again pal!”Her eyes blazed in a level stare.“I’m not here to satisfy your Baywatch fantasies!”
“All right,” Mark said with a placatory wave of his hands.“I just wanted to see the look on your face.”He closed his eyes again, and completed with an impish grin, “well, maybe I wanted to see a little more than just your face”.
“Well you can—“ she stopped abruptly when she noticed she was now wearing a flowery sarong skirt, midriff white shirt, and leather sandals.“Not bad, particularly for a man.”
“I was afraid you were going to kick my ass over the whole bikini incident,” he laughed.“I see you have quite a bit of … how should I say … spunk, about you.That doesn’t match the whole angel persona.”
“I already said I’m not an angel.As a matter of fact, since it appears I was probably right about the dream theory, there is a good chance that you made me, so you better not complain”.
“Don’t get so cocky,” he warned.“I made a bookcase in shop class once, and it only lasted three weeks before it came crashing down.”
“Was I just compared to a bookcase?”
“I will say you certainly look better, particularly in this more casual attire,” he said as he checked her up and down admiringly.
“Thank you, but you get the credit for the outfit selection.”
“My ex-wife wore something like this when I was last here,” Mark said quietly, his eyes suddenly loosing much of their spark.The thought of Kim made him pause and frown.
“Do you miss her?”Sarah asked sympathetically, noticing the sudden change in mood.
“Miss her?”He contemplated.“I don’t think I miss her anymore.Lately, I don’t think I feel much of anything anymore.I did once, but after a while, it just becomes easier not to care.Work keeps me busy.”Mark looked down and picked up a slate stone from the sand.He looked at it for a couple of seconds, turning it around in his hand.“Life moves on,” he said as he hurled the stone skipping it into the sea.
“Does it?Has your life moved on?”Sarah asked, stepping up and standing next to him.“Is your life like that skipping stone, hopping forward at first, but then just resigning and sinking?”
He turned to face her, and regarded her curiously.“How is it that you just met me, and yet you seem to have this great insight into my life?”
“I’m not sure,” she said cautiously.“Not all of it.Some of it I can feel without really knowing how.I don’t know the details of your life, but somehow I get the gist of it.There are also some things I can tell just by talking to you.You are an attractive charming guy, and I can see you have a sharp sense of humor.Every so often though, I see another man coming through, like a ghost rising from your soul.I can see it in your eyes.”
Their eyes locked.He reached out and took her hand.She held it briefly, but then broke off, walked a few yards and picked up a large shell, examining it in her hands.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Sarah asked without looking up.Before he could answer, she continued.“Everyone looks at it from the outside, and they think it’s pretty. Colorful.You put it next to your ear, and you hear the seashore, lively, pulsating.But you know what?”She turned and looked at him.“It’s dead.There was once life inside it, when it used to be out there.”She pointed out to the sea.“Unfortunately time went by, and the living creature inside either died, or wasn’t strong enough to keep the waves from pushing it ashore.”She tossed it up a couple of times and caught it back in her hands.
“So here it is now,” she continued.“It just sits there looking pretty, nothing living inside.It’s here because that’s where the waves took it.”She gently placed the shell down on the sand.Then she walked back to him and asked with an inquisitive look.
“Tell me how you got here Mark?”
#
The stretcher broke through the double doors of St. Vincent Hospital.The ER doctor walked briskly to intercept it, and listened to the summary from the paramedic.“Male, 35, found unconscious in his apartment.All vital signs are stable, and there is no sign of head trauma.”
“Take him to curtain five, and put him on a saline IV,” the doctor told the nurse who stood ready to jump into action.
“Yes, Dr. Mohan,” the nurse told the young Indian resident.“And page Dr. Braum”.
#
They walked down the empty streets of Paulina, Iowa, population 1,100 people.He stopped in front of a small white colonial split, with a well-kept yard, not unlike most other houses down the street.
“142 Pine Street,” he said.“This is where it all started.I used to play catch with my dad on this yard.”He was looking straight at the house, reciting the story of his life in a detached voice, like he was narrating someone else’s biography.He gave a big pause and breathed deeply, knowing he was about to introduce a key new character to the story.
He turned around, looked at Sarah, then pointed to his right.“Kim lived just down the street.We started dating in our Senior year.She was a basketball cheerleader.I was a bench warmer, so I don’t think it was my leaping ability that attracted her to me.She actually dumped Tom Kiper, all state power forward, for me.Just the kind of thing that goes to the head of a teenager.I think she knew my jump shot couldn’t get me past second string, but my grades could get her out of Paulina.”
Sarah stood quietly listening to him.She knew this was his confession time, and she was there for him.She reached over and held his arm.He looked at her with a warm smile.He closed his eyes, concentrated, and opened them to face the Economics building at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.
“These were actually some pretty good years,” Mark said, looking more at ease now that the proverbial floodgates were opened.They started walking down the streets of the large open campus.“Kim went to Iowa Lakes College, a small community school forty-five minutes from here.We were still dating, and saw each other every few weeks or so, but I had lots of chances for uninhibited drinking binges with my dorm buddies.The Hawkeys had a good basketball team in 87, with Kendall Gill and Roy Marble, so we had a lot of fun in the student section.”He chuckled and shook his head, recalling, but not saying out loud, some of the crazier times.He turned to her and said, “yeah, we definitely had our moments.”
“Yes, I understand.Beer, basketball, sex, which I’m sure you had but are just not saying, is a man’s idea of a good college education,” she said with a mocking grin.“Did you find some time in between to study?”
“Sure. Vivarin is a college student’s best friend.I pulled quite a few all nighters, and managed to make Dean’s list every semester.That went a long way to get me accepted into Wharton Business School at Penn.”
Mark stopped short, and took a deep breath, his eyes loosing some of the sparkle they had temporarily regained.“You know, even back then I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted.I didn’t really want to go to Penn, but Kim did.Right around my junior year, she had started with the full court press.I did love her, or I thought I did.What was not to love?I only saw her a few casual weekends every month.No bills, no social ambitions, no philosophical discussions about the future.All the fun, and none of the responsibility.So when she started talking marriage, I thought…, why not?” He shrugged almost apologetically.
“I understand.Just going with the flow.It’s very comfortable, but the problem is you never know if the flow is going in the direction you want to. Where did it take you?”
#
“Anything from the EEG?” Dr. Braum, chief of Neurology at St. Vincent’s asked Dr. Mohan.
“Nothing unusual,” replied Dr. Mohan.
“Let me look at those CT Scan results again.”He looked out at the computer-generated results, with a puzzled frown.This man should be walking he thought.What’s keeping him in this coma?
#
They stood at the corner of Wall and Broad.Across the street stood the majestic New York Stock Exchange building.Down the street, they could see the imposing facades of the skyscrapers, intermixed with traditional turn of the century buildings, reminders of the long enduring tradition of the world’s financial capital. The only incongruity was the absence of the massive foot traffic that would normally flow through the Wall Street area, as well as the noise of car horns, street vendors, and cell phones conversations.
“I thought Penn was our next stop, or your wedding ceremony,” she said with and inquiring expression.
He shrugged and waved his arms dismissively.“You don’t need to see Penn.I hated Philadelphia anyway. As far as my wedding ceremony, I wouldn’t dream—no pun intended—of submitting you to that kind of torture.I think you had it right,” he said nodding to her.“Once I chose to follow the flow, Kim’s flow, I forsook any control of my life, and this is where it took me.”
“Couldn’t you see what was happening?”
He made a defensive gesture.“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always bad.Kim could be very sweet at times, and she certainly never lost her looks.But she had her plans, and a knack for turning them into ‘our’ plans.After we got married, Kim convinced me that Wharton Business School was an opportunity we couldn’t pass.After I graduated, I wanted to go into academics, and I even had a nice offer from the University of Wisconsin.Kim flipped though!” He chuckled, shaking his head and grimacing at the same time.“After leaving Iowa, going back to Wisconsin would have been a death sentence to her.Of course, she made it sound like this wasn’t the right ‘family decision’.If I made more money, I could retire early.If I made more money, we could send our kids to better schools.In New York, she would be able to use her college training—“ he broke off with a snicker, rolling his eyes.“Like she ever intended to use that Fashion Sales & Marketing major of hers,” he sneered, disdain clear as he mentioned her college degree.
“Did she ever work?” Sarah continued probing.
“Sure!”He said with a derisive smile.“She worked very hard to get me here.”He pointed up to the street sign that read Wall Street.“Other than that, she just dabbled with a few meaningless jobs back in Philly.After I took the job with Morgan Stanley and we moved here, she gave up altogether.She was always ‘looking for the right job’,” he said sarcastically.“In all fairness, why should she bother?I was complacent.I wasn’t happy at work, but I did well.We weren’t making love on the kitchen floor, but we fell into what I thought was a comfortable routine.”
“Were you happy?”
He considered the question carefully.“How does that Barry Manilow song go?” He slowly dragged the words from his memory, “… and doing ok, but not very well”.
She shook her head grinning.“I wouldn’t kick a man when he’s down, so I’ll forego all the Barry Manilow jokes which are painfully sitting at the tip of my tongue.”
“Thanks,” he smiled.“I can use a break.”
She put her hands on his shoulder, with a gentle squeeze.“How about her?She had everything she wanted right?She must have been pretty happy,” she said, letting the statement hang in the air, even though she knew full well that wasn’t the way it had turned out.
“Yes and no.She had everything she wanted from me.I made good money, and she was now introduced into a social scene she always dreamed off.The problem was just that.She had everything she wanted,“ he paused for effect,“from me,” he completed emphatically.“I was doing well, but I was still entry level.I think she eventually felt this horse had run its course, and it was time to move on to another one.Paul Field to be precise. Assistant Vice President at Bear Sterns.”
He looked at her with a self-deprecating smirk.“She gave me some spill about us ‘going in different directions’, her ‘needing to grow’, yadda-yadda-yadda, …” he made a flippant gesture with his hand.“I asked her about counseling, but her mind was made up.She couldn’t resist the thought of being Mrs. Paul Field, and stand at the top of the totem poll.The only consolation I had is that she now shares her name with a Shopping Mall Cookie chain.”He forced a smile.
Sarah took his hands into hers, and looked at him encouragingly.“Her loss, if you ask me.”
He let go of her hands and stepped back.“Ah, pity from a woman. Nothing more emasculating to a man.”
“No!”She protested.“I mean it!She sure as hell didn’t seem worth it.The big question is, what did you do after she left?”
Mark just stood there and paused uncomfortably, knowing that he didn’t have a good answer.He finally sighed deeply and said, “Nothing. I did nothing.I just went on auto-pilot.”He stretched his hand out, mimicking a plane going in a straight line.“Actually, to be precise, I worked.I worked all the time.Part of it was habit, but I think that in a petty sort of way, I wanted to make a lot of money and show off the bitch.I didn’t have any true friends to keep me in check.For one thing, in my business you sure as hell don’t want to appear weak.So you go out for beer with ‘the guys’, trade ex-wife jokes with all the other divorcee traders, convincing everyone— and yourself in the process —that you actually have a real life.Now after four years, I’m the head of the fixed income department, making more money than god,” he said with no real pride in his voice.
He had enjoyed his little life story at first, but now that he got to the end, it just didn’t seem that much fun anymore.What did I expect, he thought?He had known the end of the tale, and that it wasn’t a happy ending.He could watch the movie a million times, and Old Yeller would never magically be all right at the end.
“What about women?”She asked, interrupting his musing, and adding another nail to his coffin.
“Few and far, and strictly casual.Like I’m going to trust women again,” he cracked.“Remember?I’m the sucker who got duped by my high school sweetheart.”
“Yes, but if you don’t—“ she started but he cut her off.
“That’s enough for now, Sarah,” he said politely but decisively. “You wanted to know why I’m such a depressing loser, and I showed you.”
“That’s not true. I—“ she tried to protest, but he interrupted her again, this time putting his hands on her shoulder.
“It’s all right Sarah, I don’t mind. But look at this.” He pointed again to the empty lifeless streets.“I’ve had enough of this.Let’s have some fun!”He said in an excited tone.“I seem to be omnipotent here, so why not enjoy it a little bit.”
She shrugged.“All right, all right.Your dream, your dime, …, take it away.”
#
“His parents are flying over immediately,” Dr. Braum added to Dr. Parsons, the Chief of Staff, after having summarized the Saunder’s case.
Dr. Parsons picked up the clipboard, and rapidly flipped through the pages, stopping only occasionally to read specific sections.He had a high stack of cases to look at, and his twenty-three years of experience taught him how to quickly scan and identify only the key things.This was certainly a peculiar one though, and he couldn’t draw an immediate parallel with anything he had seen before.He handed the chart back to Dr Braum saying, “If there are no changes, we might want to try some Carbidopal/Levodopa.”
Dr. Braum nodded, his hand already moving to the next chart. “The next one is a 47 year old male, with a history of …,” he handed over the next chart, and began summarizing the case history.
#
The crowd noise was deafening.Fifty yard line, RFK Stadium, Washington DC. On the field, the Dallas Cowboys played the Washington Redskins.On the stands, they were surrounded by your standard collection of football fans.There were the father & son couples, the wild fanatic fans with their faces painted, the extremely large guy eating three hot dogs, the beer guy walking up and down the stairs, etc.
“Football?!”Sarah exclaimed in disbelief.She was now dressed in jeans, a white t-shirt, and a Dallas Cowboys cap.Her hair was pulled back into a pony-tail, going through the back of the cap. “You can have anything, and you pick football?What kind of sad walking talking male stereotype are you?”
“This is not just football,” he said defensively.“This is the best Monday Night Football game ever played!”He was also wearing jeans, and an official Tony Dorsett Dallas Cowboys jersey.“Cowboys/Redskins, 1983 season.”He continued excitedly.“The Cowboys won 31 to 30, in what was the most exciting game I had ever seen in my life. Ever since that game, I’ve been a Dallas fan.”
He looked down into the field and exclaimed, ”That play right there was the turning point!”He watched Danny White throw a long pass, beautifully caught by Tony Hill, who then proceeded to fumble the ball after a hard tackle from the Redskins corner.Darryl Green of the Skins tried to jump on the ball and recover the fumble, but ended up pushing it into the end zone, where Drew Person dove for it.Touchdown!The Cowboys had been down 21 to 0 in the first half, but with that score, they completed the most dramatic comeback victory in Monday Night Football history.“That was poetry in motion,” he said with a broad smile.
“I still think you can do better,” Sarah resigned seeing his excitement, ”but I guess I can understand the historical significance.I see you also captured the non-athletic aspects of the game,” she remarked sarcastically, pointing to the famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad.
“I am getting quite good at this aren’t I?”He smiled sheepishly.“When I was a teenager, I had their calendar pinned up in my room.That fourth one from the left,” he pointed to a voluptuous blond,“was Miss April, Jenny Sommers.I used to fantasize about her every night for months.You wouldn’t believe the wild dreams a teen—“ he stopped with a sudden inspiration.“Say …” he started slowly with a devious smile “wouldn’t you agree that if someone had the opportunity to satisfy a long lost dream of their youth, they should go for it?”
She gawked with a repulsed expression. “You wouldn’t!Please tell me you won’t be a complete male pig,” she beckoned him.
“But this is not real!”He protested.“None of this is real.”He waved his hand around.“More than likely, not even you are real.I could wake up any second now, and I would never get another chance like this.Just wait a second, and I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t do—“ but before she could complete the sentence, he was gone.
#
Mark was sitting in his bed, in his old bedroom in Paulina.The door was shut.There were socks and dirty t-shirts on the floor, and his desk was a mess.The walls were decorated with posters of Tony Dorsett, Magic Johnson, and yes, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders calendar.Everything the way it used to be.
There was one thing now, which was not there when he lived in that house.Jenny Sommers, Miss April, stood two steps away from him, wearing her skimpy cheerleading outfit.He had not had good sex for a while, he told himself, feeling the need of self-justification.This was a dream, and people did some crazy questionable things in dreams, he thought.
“I want to make love to you sweetie,” Jenny said unhooking her bra.“I’ll do anything you want.”She was the perfect no strings attached woman, much like the meaningless women he had been seeing lately.She was also built with all the perfect physical attributes that ordinarily only exist in the confines of a male fantasy.
This was a dream scenario, but it wouldn’t happen in his dream.In his mind’s eyes, Mark only saw one thing: Sarah.
He couldn’t do this, he thought.He was now ashamed to even be here.He did have to marvel at his own condition.He had the chance every red-blooded man would kill for, and he managed to feel committed to someone.As absurd as it was, he knew it was true.He could have any woman in the world, this dream world at least, and he only wanted one.“Damn!”He murmured to himself, and closed his eyes.
#
Sarah stood in an open field, in the middle of a patch of wild purple flowers, her back turned to him.She still wore the same jeans and white shirt, but no cap, allowing her long hair to drape over her back.In fact, the gentle breeze playing with her hair was the only indication she was a live person, since she didn’t flinch, turn, or speak to him when he materialized.
He stood back a few feet behind her, and said as gently and softly as he could, “I’m sorry, Sarah”.
She said nothing, and he still could not see her face.
“I didn’t do anything, Sarah.I swear.Talk to me,” he pleaded.
She turned around.Her face spoke of a myriad of mixed emotions.A single tear traveled from her left eye, down her cheek, slowly, almost seeming to purposely torture him.Her eyes also showed anger, but she relaxed her expression momentarily, and he could see some forgiveness coming through.
“I’m not really sure what to say,” she finally broke the silence.“I’m sad that you thought of doing that, I’m very mad at you for it, but I can’t help being a little happy that you didn’t.I guess it’s not everyday you can have the woman of your dreams,” she said, trying to appear sympathetic, but not very convincingly.
“She wasn’t the woman of my dreams, or at least hasn’t been for quite a few years.She was actually the woman of my real present life, more than anything else.Do you know why I almost did that?” he asked rhetorically.“Force of habit.I’ve grown accustomed to seek out every bimbo I can find.Anyone who is hot enough that I’ll want to have sex with, but just cheap or dumb enough that I wouldn’t think of commitment.”
He walked up to her, and took her hands.“You,” he said emphatically, “are the woman of my dreams.I mean …” he laughed and waved one hand around, “you really are the woman of my dreams.”
She looked at him with a coy smile, and then suddenly threw herself at him in an embrace.She just held on for a few seconds, then asked, “You’re not going to regret this, are you?Are you sure you want to be with me, and not Yamine Bleeth?”
He didn’t reply.Not with words at least.He pulled delicately away from her embrace, while still holding her hands.He looked at her warmly, then gently moved his right hand up to brush the side of her face. He had felt strangely connected to her, from the moment he first saw her.He still wasn’t sure exactly why, nor did he care.The moment his hand touched her cheek, he knew this was right.
She leaned her head into his hand.He moved the other hand up, gently cupping her face, and slowly pulled her lips into his.He kissed her upper lip first.Softly.Then he moved tenderly to the lower lip.The deep long kiss that followed, erased any doubts he might have had in his mind about how real this could feel inside a dream.What he felt now was more real than anything he had ever experienced.His hands moved to her back, as she wrapped hers around his neck, and they continued kissing while tightening their embrace.He now felt every curve of her body against his, and adrenaline shot through his system like wildfire.
With one quick shift of his mind— he was very adept at it now— they found themselves lying in a plain bed, with simple white sheets, floating in the same empty darkness where he had first arrived.The difference was this time he wasn’t missing anything.He had everything he needed right in his arms.
#
“Dr. Braum!”The nursed called out into the hallway.“There are some really erratic readings from his EEG,”she said when he turned.
He walked back into Mark’s room.He went straight to the EEG machine, and stretched the narrow strip of paper between his forefingers.He looked down at the readings, and saw the wild oscillations.His eyes looked up again at the man lying in bed, with all the probes attached to his head.“What is going on with you my friend?”He asked the inanimate body of Mark Saunders.“Karen?”He called the nurse.“Page Dr. Parsons, and get me 50mg of Carbidopa-Levodopa.”
#
She lay partially on top of him, with her chin resting on his bare chest.Their eyes were locked, and their mouths set in warm grin.His right hand played with her hair, while his left rested gently on the small of her back.After making love, they felt no need for long conversation.The experience they had just shared expressed more than any words could.For now, they were just content in feeling each other’s warm bodies, and share in the blissful aftermath of what was certainly the most passionate encounter he had ever had.
She finally broke the silence.“That was …” the right words failed her, so she completely simply with, “very nice.Very, very nice,” she said beaming.
“Not one of your standard long and articulated thoughts,” he teased, “but pretty much sums it up.”He smiled back at her, still caressing her hair.
“Do you still feel good about it?”Sarah asked.
“Yes, I sure do,” he quickly replied, but then contemplated the question more thoroughly.“At first I thought it might have been weird to do this in a dream.Making love inside your dream could have a certain narcissistic aspect.But as you said before: what’s a dream, really?No one knows.Who are you?Are you really just a couple of neurons in my brain, or did something magical bring you here into my mind?There are so many things I don’t know, I could drive myself crazy thinking.”
He paused, then continued in a loving tone.“I decided instead I’d concentrate on the things I did know.I know you made me feel things I thought were lost forever in me.I know I can trust you, and I haven’t trusted anyone for a long time.I know I can love you,” he concluded, bending his neck down to kiss her tenderly.
She broke away from their kiss, and slid sideways next to him.She lay on her side, supporting her head with her right hand, and looked down at him with a triumphant smile of sudden realization.“Remember I told you I knew I was here to help you, but I didn’t know how?”
“Yes?”He said expectantly.
“I think I understand now.I’m here to—“ but she was cutoff when he suddenly gasped with a loss of breath.He looked at her in shock, and saw her body becoming translucent.Shots of light darted across the darkness around him.He wasn’t sure what was happening, but he knew they were taking her away from him, so he fought back with all his will.
#
“I thought we had him back for a second,” said Dr. Braum.“Let’s try another 500mg, and also give him 10mg of Diazepan”.
The nurse moved to the tray, and started preparing the next dosages.
#
He was back for the moment.Sarah had sat up in bed, and he hugged her tightly.“Something is happening Sarah.I think I’m waking up,” he said urgently.“What am I going to do?I don’t want to lose you”.
“Listen Mark,” she pushed him back, looked him straight in the eyes, and spoke rapidly, sensing they were running out of time.“I was about to tell you, I think I know why I was brought here.I came here so you could learn to love again, to trust again.”
“That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want to lose you either, but don’t you see?You have to.You can’t live in a dream forever,” she pleaded.
“I can do whatever I—“ and it came again, stronger this time.“Nooooo!”He cried stretching his hands to her, and watching them go through her translucent form.He could still see her, but she began to lose shape.
“Mark, what you found here, you can take back with you.”Her voice came through with a strange far away echo.“You know you can love.You know you can trust.You know you have the power to change your life.You have a life to live outside of this place.Go live it.Do it for me.Do it for yourself.”
He stopped fighting the inevitable, and let himself go.At the last second, he heard her voice coming again, like a faint whisper.“I love you Mark, and I will always be with you.”
Then he awoke.
#
Three days later, he walked out of St. Vincent’s hospital.His parents were bringing the rental car around, and they would pick him up by the curb.He turned back and looked up at his room window on the 7th floor, with a sense of longing, knowing he had lost something precious in that hospital room.He turned around again, and faced the street.He also knew he had found many things in that room.He had called Morgan Stanley yesterday, and resigned his position.He would go back to Iowa with his parents for a few weeks, and then take it from there.There were bound to be a few schools out there, which would love to have a high profile financial analyst as a visiting professor.
The car pulled up; he hugged his parents, and stepped in.As the car started moving again, he smiled peacefully.He had found life in his dreams.Now he just had to follow his dreams in his life.


© Copyright 2017 Luke Bex. All rights reserved.

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